In order to reduce CO2 emissions in France's major cities, the most environmentally damaging vehicles are now banned from driving in certain urban areas called Low Emission Mobility Zones (ZFE-m). Vehicles not registered in France must also display an ecological sticker called Crit'Air. Here is an overview of the regulations in force to ensure that you have a peaceful holiday.
What is the Crit'Air sticker?
The certificate is a round sticker that corresponds to a class of vehicle defined according to the emissions of atmospheric pollutants. There are 6 categories of certificates, each with a different colour, to encourage the least polluting vehicles.
The Crit'Air sticker concerns all vehicles: private cars, two-wheelers, tricycles and quadricycles, light commercial vehicles and heavy vehicles including buses and coaches. Once acquired and affixed to the vehicle's windscreen, the sticker is valid for the entire life of the vehicle.
Which zones require a Crit'Air sticker?
The Crit'Air certificate is only compulsory in certain zones. In Paris, the sticker is compulsory within the perimeter of the A86 motorway from Monday to Friday, from 8am to 8pm, except on public holidays.
Several large cities have also set up low emission mobility zones. The agglomerations concerned are: Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rouen, Reims and Saint-Étienne. From 2025, all cities and agglomerations with more than 150,000 inhabitants will be required to introduce a Low Emission Mobility Zone.
What are the regulations in force?
Since 1 January 2023, all Crit'Air 5 vehicles or vehicles without a sticker have been subject to traffic restrictions in Low Emission Zones. In some cities, Crit'Air 4 vehicles are also affected. Several cities also offer passes to allow occasional drivers to visit the city centre a limited number of times during the year.
Here is a summary of the measures in force (or soon to be introduced) in each of France's 11 Low Emission Zones:
In Paris and Greater Paris, the ban on Crit'Air 3 cars will apply from 1 January 2025 at the latest (in addition to Crit'Air 4, 5 and non-classified vehicles already subject to restrictions).
In Lyon, Crit'Air 5 and non-classified private vehicles are now affected by the traffic restrictions. Crit'Air 4, 3 and 2 vehicles will be progressively restricted in 2024, 2025 and 2028.
In Marseille, Crit'Air 4 cars will be banned from 1 January 2024. Crit'Air 3 vehicles will no longer be allowed to circulate within the ZFE perimeter after 1 January 2025.
In Strasbourg, Crit'Air 5 and non-classified vehicles will be banned from driving within the ZFE-m perimeter. The traffic restrictions will apply from 1 January 2024 for Crit'Air 4 vehicles and from 1 January 2025 for Crit'Air 3 vehicles.
In Rouen, all vehicles displaying a Crit'Air 4, 5 or non-classified sticker have been banned from 1 September 2022. Tolerance is granted to motorised two-wheelers, tricycles and quadricycles until 31 August 2023. The ban is due to apply to Crit'Air 3 cars from 1 January 2025.
In addition, additional traffic restrictions may apply during pollution peaks.
Traffic restrictions will only apply in urban areas where pollutant thresholds are exceeded. The following cities, known as "vigilance territories", are therefore no longer subject to these new restrictions (Crit'Air 3).
In Toulouse, all Crit'Air 4, 5 and non-classified vehicles have been affected by the traffic restrictions since 1 January 2023. Crit'Air 3 cars will be able to continue driving after 2024.
-In Nice, Crit'Air 5 and non-classified passenger cars have been affected by the restrictions since 1 January 2023. However, Crit'Air 4 and Crit'Air 3 vehicles will be able to continue driving.
-In Montpellier, Crit'Air 5 and non-classified vehicles have been banned from 1 January 2023. However, Crit'Air 4 and Crit'Air 3 vehicles will not be subject to these restrictions.
-In Grenoble, Crit'Air vehicles have been banned from driving in the Low Emission Zone since 7 July 2023. These restrictions will apply from 1 January 2024 for Crit'Air 4 cars and from 1 January 2025 for Crit'Air 4 cars, and are limited to certain hours (Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm).
-In Reims, the ban applies to Crit'Air 4 and 5 vehicles from 1 January 2023. The restrictions do not apply to Crit'Air 3 vehicles.
How do I get a Crit'Air sticker?
French or foreign motorists can order the sticker online on the website of the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition (the only official site authorised to issue them, beware of scams! ): https://certificat-air.gouv.fr
The cost is 3.70€ plus postage (3,11€ + 1,50€). The estimated delivery time is 5 to 10 days.
Please note that offending vehicles will be fined 68€ for a private car and 135€ for a coach.
More information on the official website of the Crit'Air certificate: https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/certificats-qualite-lair-critair (available in English, German, Italian, Spanish).